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Salesforce.com repackages Apex code as developer 'platform'

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Software as a Service (SaaS) isn't dead, but it could soon be overtaken by Platform as a Service (PaaS), according to SaaS pioneer Salesforce.com.

With this week's launch of its re-packaged Apex Code platform under the oddly-named Summer '07, Salesforce.com claims this is the next step in the expansion of service-based computing.

"The first generation of SaaS was about providing applications such as customer relationship management (CRM) and email packaged as services. With Summer '07 we are taking this to the next level and delivering a platform with tools and services for the developer," Salesforce.com chief marketing officer Clarence So says.

"In a way it compares the transition that Microsoft made when it moved from supplying desktop applications to the Windows platform and the tools that went with it."

Originally launched at the end of 2006, Salesforce.com's Apex platform has grown quickly this year and So says tool makers such as Borland are working on expanding the range of developer tools available. He adds that the open source Eclipse tool set is also being developed for Summer '07.

"From a developer's perspective it means they can take ready-made components such as our database, our authentication process, and single log-in and use them in their applications."

While the current focus for application development remains on Salesforce.com's flagship CRM service, So expects the PaaS phenomenon to expand into all application areas.

"It is really up to customers and developers. We have around 1,200 developers working on the Apex platform on a range of applications from holiday tracking to Google-style mash ups. It is still early days - but we already have some 600 applications which have attracted 30,000 installs since the start of 2007." ®

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